Dustin Curtis

Villain.

Page 7


Why HBO’s president panned internet streaming

In an article published a couple of days ago, Forbes writer Erik Kain suggested that HBO’s president, Eric Kessler, called internet streaming distribution a “temporary phenomenon,” and then he blamed HBO’s supposed incompetence for causing the extremely high rates of piracy for its original content. It was a very misleading and shallow article.

Who would believe that the president of HBO is so dense that he would make such an absurd comment? It’s so unbelievable that I went to the primary source, a 40 minute video interview with Mr. Kessler, which draws a fascinating picture of HBO’s business strategy. After listening to the entire interview twice, I could not pinpoint where Kessler actually said “temporary phenomenon.” He hinted at the opposite, in fact, and then he articulately rationalized HBO’s position from a business perspective. (He did mention that the depressed economy was...

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Facebook’s App Platform

One of Facebook’s biggest strengths is its web platform, but with the evolution of hardware-tied mobile app stores, that platform is slowly (very, very slowly) becoming irrelevant. Today, Facebook announced its App Center, presumably to compete more directly with the Play Market and the App Store. Aaron Brady, on the Facebook developers blog:

Today, we’re announcing the App Center, a new place for people to find social apps. The App Center gives developers an additional way to grow their apps and creates opportunities for more types of apps to be successful.

In the coming weeks, people will be able to access the App Center on the web and in the iOS and Android Facebook apps. All canvas, mobile and web apps that follow the guidelines can be listed. All developers should start preparing today to make sure their app is included for the launch.

This strategy has the potential to be very...

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Github’s Octicons

Cameron McEfee wrote a great case study on Github’s process for building Octicons, their new icon font, on the Github blog:

Design is in the details. With all our icons designed, it was time for us to create our font. We decided we needed two sizes of each icon. One size, 16px, would be optimized for its exact size. At 16px the details are limited so every pixel was important. Since the icons were designed for such a small space, they don’t really scale well. To take care of that our second size, 32px, would be designed with more detail so that it could be scaled up for many purposes.

This is a great case study showing the tradeoffs Github made in order to optimize automatic antialiasing when pixel-fitting their new icon font. Unfortunately, because browser font rendering systems are optimized for typography and not icons, using that system to display icons doesn’t work very well...

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Pixel-fitting

In the Markdown Mark repository on Github, I had initially included only 12 static PNG images of the mark at different specific sizes. Several people asked me why I had done this instead of including a vector graphic, and the reason is actually extremely important. This is something everyone should know, especially people who are not designers.

Most icons and logos are stored in vector image files that specify perfect mathematical representations of their shapes. Unlike JPG and PNG images, vector graphic files don’t tell the computer how to display their contents in pixels; for a vector graphic to be displayed, the computer has to perform a translation from the mathematical vectors into something that can be displayed with pixels.

This translation process is relatively simple: the computer takes vector lines, lays them on top of a pixel canvas, and then fills in each pixel that the...

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iMessage keeps AT&T CEO awake at night

Brian X. Chen on Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s CEO, at The New York Times:

Mr. Stephenson said he worried about services that could replace the company’s own offerings. For example, free Internet-based messaging services like Apple’s iMessage are eating into the company’s revenue from text messages.

“You lie awake at night worrying about what is that which will disrupt your business model,” he said. “Apple iMessage is a classic example. If you’re using iMessage, you’re not using one of our messaging services, right? That’s disruptive to our messaging revenue stream.”

The future of wireless networks is very clear: they will be used for everything. AT&T Mobility and Verizon will very soon be providing your sole connections to the rest of the world, including your home internet, mobile internet, voice communications, television, and ambient devices. They are slowly transforming...

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Arianna Huffington vs. AOL

Keach Hagey, at The Wall Street Journal:

Arianna Huffington acknowledged Thursday that her portfolio at AOL Inc. is being scaled back to include only the Huffington Post, undoing a structure put in place when her website was acquired by AOL last year.

After buying the Huffington Post for $315 million, AOL gave Ms. Huffington editorial oversight of all its properties, including tech-news site TechCrunch, the patch.com network of local news sites, MovieFone and MapQuest.

First, Engadget’s editor left. Then, some of Engadget’s writers left. After some incredibly damaging–and very public–fighting, Michael Arrington was fired. Yes, the most powerful man in tech journalism was fired from a company that is trying to become the future of journalism. In the months that have followed, practically the entire TechCrunch team has left.

People don’t get in the lifeboats unless they think the...

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Facebook’s numbers

I like to look at raw numbers every once in a while, without external influence, to recalibrate my ability to judge the magnitude of things. Here are some of the numbers from Facebook’s most recent S-1 filing (published on May 3rd) which I think are important as metrics to compare against when thinking about relative success and opportunity. (Sources are at the bottom.)

Total users and engagement

125,000 M Friendships
2,000 M Likes per day
1,000 M Comments posted per day
901 M Monthly active users
526 M Daily Active users
488 M Monthly active mobile users
302 M Photos uploaded each day

User penetration

85% Chile, Turkey, and Venezuela
60% India, the United Kingdom and the United States
30%-40% Brazil and Germany
20% Japan, Russia, and South Korea
0% China

Daily active users

526 M Worldwide total
152 M Europe
129 M US & Canada
126 M Rest of the world
119 M Asia

Monthly active users...

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Bing knows who you are

I just went to Bing for the first time in a very, very long time, and saw something that I am not sure how to interpret. It knew who I was. It knew who my friends were. It knew my name, and it had my profile photo.

I’m not sure how much information Facebook is actually giving to Microsoft for this kind of integration to happen; at least with the Yelp integration, as far as I know, Facebook doesn’t actually send Yelp any information about you. But the Bing integration felt more personal, for some reason.

The feature that Yelp uses is called Instant Personalization. It’s interesting. And while at first I was shocked to see myself logged in on Bing, I’m going to reserve my judgement for a while. Because it’s also kind of awesome.

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AOL: We’ve STREAMLINED, MONETIZED, RETURNED, ENHANCED, FOCUSED, ACHIEVED, ATTAINED, ACCOMPLISHED, PRODUCED, REALIZED, DELIVERED, INITIATED, and GENERATED OVER $1 BILLION

Some of AOL’s shareholders are angry at the company’s management for being… well, bad at their jobs. One of AOL’s biggest shareholders is staging a coup d'état, and trying to win control of the board. AOL is fighting back, with press release from earlier today:

Dear Fellow Stockholder:

Since AOL became an independent public company in late 2009, AOL’s Board of Directors (“Board”) and senior management have successfully charted a new strategic and financial course for the Company. This new approach has significantly improved AOL’s results, enhanced the prospects for sustained growth, and created value for all stockholders.

You now face an important decision about the future of your investment in the Company. At our Annual Meeting of Stockholders on June 14, 2012, Starboard Value L.P. (“Starboard”), an AOL stockholder, is seeking to elect its own slate of three Director candidates to...

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Apple rejecting apps that integrate with Rdio and Dropbox

Apple is apparently rejecting apps that merely link to mobile webpages from which a user can sign up for a subscription service. Goran Daemon P, in a post on the Dropbox support forum:

Reason for rejection is the fact that if the user does not have Dropbox application installed then the linking authorization is done through Safari (as per latest SDK).

Once the user is in Safari it is possible for the user to click “Desktop version” and navigate to a place on Dropbox site where it is possible to purchase additional space.

Apple views this as “sending user to an additional purchase” which is against rules.

From the Hacker News thread, a similar story about Rdio integration from starnix17:

I had a simliar rejection because of my app’s Rdio integration. If the user had Rdio installed, my app would open the song in the Rdio native app. If the user didn’t have the app installed, my app...

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